Sunday, 19 May 2013

Political preamble

Go to  a dramatic answer to the problems with agriculture and manufacturing AND the almost inevitable win by a protectionist party in the Federal seat of Riverina.

If Social Media could work the way I want it to this could spread to other electorates. 
The aim is to increase the volume of Australian oranges to healthy Australian juice (not the concentrate mix crap) by 200,000 tons as shown. 

For those who think that this is impossible contact kurriman@hotmail.comtm

The Honerable John Cobb,
Shadow Minister of Agriculture
Visiting Griffith

Dear John,

                  I am living in Victoria at present but when I heard that you would be in Griffith I got quite excited because as someone born in Griffith I do not want it to die. I wrote the following and hoped that someone could present parts of it. When I phoned and found that there would be a microphone handed around I realised that the session would be a non event. This will be going to you, Peter Dutton and Barnaby and also to farmers in Griffith and other palces.

Some months ago I wrote to the ministers and shadow ministers of the Government and the Coalition. An email was also sent to Barnaby Joyce and a wild card – Tony Windsor. The only one to respond was Tony Windsor.

            As a person who has voted Country Party or National Party  all his life I had seen Tony as an  enemy. I had been disappointed that Tony  had helped Julia Gillard into power but whenever he spoke he seemed to make sense. There was another factor. Perhaps the reason there was no response from Coalition members is that I strongly believe that ever reducing tariffs are the main reason for Australia’s demise of citrus, stone fruits, dairying and manufacturing. I still do not know how Tony feels about this but he was prepared to take my selective tariff message to the Minister for Agriculture. Tony’s persistence paid off and a letter  was sent to me and parts of it will be quoted here.  


            We are receiving enthusiastic response to our petition and we are aiming for at least 10,000 signatures

Contaminated Brazilian orange concentrate.

            Item 1 on the petition calls for an immediate ban on the import of contaminated Brazilian orange concentrate. This ban would open up what we calculate to be the opportunity for Australian orange growers to have sales at the right price for up to 200,000 tons of oranges immediately. The Minister for Agriculture implies  that he will not consider a ban. Our question to you and the member for Riverina is whether you would consider a ban knowing that there is so much support for our petition.

The presence  of carbandazim in the concentrate which was banned for use by Australian farmers at least two years ago caused a ban by the United States. There was a ban in Australia but Citrus Australia reported that after lobbying the ban was overturned. Our question to you, to  Citrus Australia and to the member for Riverina is to investigate who lobbied who and were either one or more of the lobbyists a company or companies who are possibly involved with or as members of the very few cartels who are being accused of driving orange farm owners in Brazil off their land.

The Minister of Agriculture seems to have a lot of weasel words implying that the levels of carbendazim are at acceptable health levels. The letter will be made available to as wide an audience as possible.

An additional health concern is the damage caused by citrus greening disease which affects almost every citrus area in the world except Australia, the Mediterranean and parts of California. The Minister for Agriculture accepts that “Trees that are diseased with citrus greening produce bitter, hard, misshapen fruit and die within a few years of being infected.” I produced a flyer showing the mutated fruit and copies will be available in Michael’s Griffith office and at the presentation on Tuesday evening in Griffith. We invite you to advise whether you agree with the assessment of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry who “can find no evidence that any toxin is present in diseased orange fruit.” I wonder whether they enjoyed their trips to Brazil  as they tested the fruit during the first year  while the trees are dying.

Even if you agree that the imported products are at levels accepted by scientists as being within the health limits which they accept on behalf of those who enjoy the juice from 800,000 tons of oranges per annum  there is another question. If only 200,000 tons of Australian oranges are used compared to the 600,000 tons grown overseas would you deny our request that at least a further200,000 tons of the freshest oranges in the world at the right price should be used?

Selective Tariff Protection.

The second item on our petition asks for selective tariff protection to save citrus, stone fruits, dairying and manufacturing. We are so concerned that we have started an amateurish web site to build up our case. It is:

Michael sent me a letter confirming the National’s reasons for wanting to  continue to reduce tariffs even though oranges, stone fruits, dairying and manufacturing are extending their losses at an ever increasing rate as can be seen by graphs which we have and plan to add to our web site.

Currently I am living in Victoria which was a manufacturing power house but that has also been decimated by tariffs. The National member for Gippsland also wrote a letter confirming the policy of the Nationals to move to ever reducing tariffs.

Economic outlook by economists.

            In Victoria apricots, pears and peaches are also being ruined so I sought out an economist. We talked on the phone and disagreed on almost everything. I wrote an open letter to the member – Darren Chester – and made comment about the economist saying that Australia does not have a future as a fruit growing country. The newspaper The Latrobe Valley Express will not print my letter. It is shown in our web site.

            We have been asking for contact with an economist and an email has been sent to the Lowy Institute, So far we have not had a response and now want you and Michael:

Do you believe that Australia has a future in fruit growing? Do you know an economist who can provide an economic backing either one way or another?

Concern for Truth in Advertising.

            Some farmers feel that the limits to truth in advertising for orange juice are a serious problem for the  citrus industry. Tariff protection requires political changes. It would appear that the limits to truth in advertising could  be either resolved on Tuesday evening or else a list of measureable actions could be started on Tuesday.

            The letter from the Minister of Agriculture can be the starting point. It says “The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that all food products sold in Australia are safe and are clearly and accurately labeled so that consumers can make informed choices about the safety and nutritional quality of the food they buy. All food sold in Australia, whether imported or produced domestically, must meet the safety and labeling requirements set out in the Australia New Zealand Standards Code.”

            There is also a long paragraph which looks to me like a lot of bureaucratic  weasel words  including what they feel Australian Made means. Starting from to-morrow I hope that farmers will start to read the letter and decide if they agree with the minister. If they do not they should ask their local member if he agrees with the minister.

            I do not agree with him now and did not agree that the situation was correct a few months ago when I met a nice lady distributing orange juice with Meals  on Wheels.  The carton of orange juice t had a brand name of Westcliff “… a registered name of Aldi..made from local and  imported  juice.. to our stringent quality specifications.”

A recent article in The Land stated that of the orange juice labeled as “Australian made”  or similar contains 70 to 80% Brazilian orange concentrate. This prompted me to send the following questions to Aldi’s quality department:

1.      From which countries are the imported juice sourced? Please prove the data if Brazil is not included.
2.      Is any of the concentrate from orchards affected by greening?
3.      What is the reading for carbenazim?
4.      What reading is there for other toxins?

That was months ago with no response. I ask you or Michael to use your positions to ask Aldi for a response.

If you and the  local member do not agree with the minister  that there is truth in adverting on all Australian products then I suggest that you suggest  that Michael should work with the farmers to determine how the legislation needs to be changed and then each of you can take the changes to Parliament.

Apparent Gouging by Retailers 

            Michael is on record as saying that he is concerned about the big retailer’s effect on citrus  It is suggested that you or Michael should provide the farmers with the legislation which might be aimed at fairness and then have Michael work with the farmers to frame legislation to overcome the problem and then each of you also  present that to Parliament.

Australian Dollar

The dollar is now heading down towards 90 cents which is good for exports. This represents only about 2% or the total so it does not save the citrus industry

The Future of Australia

The treasurer tells us that Australia is the envy of the Developed Countries and has moved up three places to become the12 richest country in the world.  My amateurish graph shows that Australia is the best of an underperforming group. Australia is being left behind by the best of the BRIC countries and also the best of the MIKT countries and even the best of the Third World – Bangladesh is growing at more than double the rate of Australia. One of the MIKT countries – Mexico – could pass Australia and take over the number 12 spot.

            Do you and Michael accept that unless Australia regains strength in agriculture and manufacturing that we will move closer to the up and coming Third World?

Brian Mills

Australian Dollar

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